Losing Faith in Faith
Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist is a book by Dan Barker.
Part 1: Losing Faith
Spreading the Good News
In this chapter, Barker gives a brief autobiography, from the age of 15 when he felt called to preach. He describes his career as a musician and preacher, and finally a thirst for knowledge that eventually eroded his faith and turned him from a fundamentalist to a liberal Christian and finally into an atheist.
Ripples: From Faith to Reason
Wanting to make a clean break with the past, Barker sent a letter to his family, friends, and business associates announcing his deconversion, and got a wide variety of reactions. Some friendships survived, others were destroyed. He sees this as a crucible that showed him which friendships were solid and which ones were not.
As a result of the discussions resulting from this letter, both of Barker's parents became atheists. His story was featured in a newspaper, which led to correspondence with his current wife, Annie Laurie Gaylor.
I Just Lost Faith in Faith
This chapter is a reprint of an article that Barker wrote for the June 1984 edition of Freethought Today, his first article in that publication.
He describes his deconversion and the effect that it had on people around him. In particular, he says he was quite happy as a Christian; it was not unhappiness but rational inquiry that led to his deconversion. There are big problems with religion, but the answers proffered — especially "faith" — are unsatisfying and shallow.
Standing on the Premises
This chapter is the text of a talk Barker gave at the Freedom From Religion Foundation convention in 1984.
- Life needs meaning
- Man has a soul and/or a spirit
- Man is basically evil
and others. But many of these beliefs are accepted for no good reason, and by questioning them or pointing out their flaws, it is possible to undercut the evangelist's message.
From Martian to Earthling
The difference between a theist and an atheist is not simply a matter of drawing different conclusions from the same data; it is a difference in worldview. Switching to a new worldview is similar to learning a new language, except that one leaves the old worldview behind.
Deconversion proceeds through a stage of growing awareness of other points of view; a stage of consideration of these other points of view, and confronting the problems with one's existing worldview (which can be painful); and finally, a stage of incorporation: one has made the transition to the new worldview, but has yet to fully work through all the consequences and integrate them into one's new worldview.
The transition from theist to atheist is a frightening leap into the unknown, and during this time it is helpful to have a community of people with whom one can discuss religious issues.